Despite cooling off recently, the New York Islanders are still in a playoff spot. They are third in the Metropolitan Division and currently hold the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The New York Rangers, who play not even 30 miles away, have jumped over the Islanders in the standings. Although they struggled before the new year began, the New York Rangers have caught fire in 2015, and they are now the top team in the Metropolitan Division and the NHL, with over 100 points.
With the two New York teams close in terms of proximity, points, and standings, a Rangers-Islanders Playoff match-up would be welcomed by many, and could very well end up being a great series.
Every time the Islanders and Rangers faced off during the regular season, tensions were high and a playoff-level atmosphere was experienced by all in attendance. Although the Rangers lost the first three out of five times they played the Islanders, their February 16 th win proved that this match-up would be ideal in the upcoming Playoffs. This win for the Rangers was no easy battle, due to the fact that they didn’t lead until 15:28 into the 3 rd period.
What has made these teams so close? The statistics from the beginning of the season until now tell it all. Just by looking at their consistently-starting rookies; both Kevin Hayes (NYR) and Anders Lee (NYI) are both tied for the 5th-best rookie in the NHL. They are close in shots per game, with both teams averaging from 31 to 33 shots. Rick Nash (NYR) and John Travares (NYI) are both amongst the NHL leaders in goals, with Nash netting 40 and Travares scoring 34. While the team’s offenses have been crucial to their successes, their defenses haven’t disappointed. In terms of goalies, the teams numbers are a bit skewered since Lundqvist has missed so much time. The Rangers’ combination of Lundqvist and Talbot currently hold a .922 save percentage, while the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak has a .913 save percentage.
With all of these factors tied together – especially considering the high tensions and close proximity and ranking of the two teams – who wouldn’t want to see a New York vs. New York playoff match-up?
[Photo: NHLI via Getty Images]